Macy Kleinfelder, the Dean of Student Affairs and a history teacher at The Williams School in New London, Connecticut, is the 2014 recipient of the Orion Award for Excellence in Experiential Education. Kleinfelder received the Award at the annual Members’ Meeting at Mystic Seaport on Saturday, September 27.
The Orion Award is bestowed by Mystic Seaport on stellar teachers who create meaningful and innovative learning experiences for their students by utilizing the Museum’s collections, programs, and learning resources. The Award recognizes teachers who infuse history, math, science, and literature with a maritime focus and are an inspiration to their students and their colleagues.
In the summer of 2012, Kleinfelder was selected as one of a group of teachers to help Mystic Seaport create an online learning community for educators. This has since developed into Mystic Seaport for Educators (MSE), an innovative website for teachers that facilitates access to the Museum’s collections for the purpose of creating learning tools to bring America’s maritime heritage into the classroom.
As an MSE Fellow, Kleinfelder conducted extensive research at Mystic Seaport and wrote Artifact Articles for the website about a gamming chair, Chinese slippers, and a War of 1812 sea bag. She used this experience and new knowledge to create a mid-term project where her students delved deeper into the War of 1812 and gained a better understanding of artifacts of the period.
Kleinfelder also brought her students to Mystic Seaport to analyze the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan as an artifact, and completed a “Curators’ Challenge” with her students and Museum staff, where they had to create an exhibit based on artifact analysis. She used this trip to prepare her students for an inquiry-based mid-term project back in the classroom. She also worked with Mystic Seaport staff to create an online map of the 27th voyage of the Morgan using the ship’s logbook. For this project, Kleinfelder created a Williams School Whaling Project blog.
Additionally, Kleinfelder taught a professional development workshop for museum educators at Mystic Seaport about working with middle- and high-school students.
“We chose to honor Macy Kleinfelder with this award because she is a treasure trove of new ideas, and she is willing to take risks in the classroom, try new approaches, and constantly pursue innovation and improvement,” said Sarah Cahill, director of Education at Mystic Seaport.
Kleinfelder attended the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey, and the University of St. Andrews. Shortly after graduating with an MA from St. Andrews, she began teaching. Over the past four years, Kleinfelder has taught middle school Geography and English, US History, Modern World History, Reel History (history and film), Economics, and The History of the Sixties. In her free time, she performs in community theater and coaches the Williams School field hockey team.